Joco Sports

Experience as high school athlete led physician to career in sports medicine

Overland Park resident Dr. David Smith got into sports medicine because of his experiences as a cross country and track athlete at Shawnee Mission South.

“I peaked in my running performance in the ninth grade,” said Smith, a 1975 SM South grad. “I struggled with running injuries most of high school.

“I figured I better figure out how to diagnose and treat my own injuries and help other athletes overcome their injuries and medical issues related to sports and exercise.”

After graduating from SM South, Smith headed to Kansas State, where he graduated in 1980. He attended medical school at Kansas, then was off to Michigan State for residency and the Cleveland Clinic for a sports medicine fellowship.

A big part of his medical practice has been working with athletes from elementary school, high school, college and the Olympic level.

“Being a physician allows me to care for people through tough times in their lives,” he said. “Despite some of the hassles of the health care system, I still enjoy the one-on-one relationship I develop with patients I serve, and hope I can partner with them in achieving long-term health.”

After all of his medical training, he returned to KU Med, where he was on the faculty in the newly formed Sports Medicine Clinic, led by Dr. Stephen Munns.

After four years there, he moved on to the Shawnee Mission Medical Center, where he helped establish their Sports Care program. Smith spent seven years with Sports Care and a year with an orthopaedic group in town before moving to Manhattan. There, he was director of sports medicine at the K-State student health center and served as team physician for several K-State sports, including baseball, track, cross country, crew, equestrian, tennis, golf and the cheer and dance squads.

After 12 years at K-State, he was recruited back to KU Medical Center to help with their comprehensive sports medicine program. He moved back to the area on May 13 to be a part of the University of Kansas Hospital Center for Sports Medicine.

Smith spends part of his week at the Center for Sports Medicine-Indian Creek, which is across the street from SM South. The other days are spent at the newly opened University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex in Kansas City, Mo.

Despite his busy schedule, Smith is still very active.

“I love being physically active myself as I exercise regularly and usually do the short-course triathlon at the Shawnee Mission Triathlon as a measure of my fitness,” he said.

He believes in the need for trainers and sports medicine doctors in all levels of sports.

“Certified athletic trainers are well-qualified to provide care on the field,” he said. “Training and experience in sports medicine for physicians has raised the standard of care provided to athletes.

“Caution is advised for those who are accessing sports medicine ‘experts,’ as there are a lot of people out there who want to market their services to athletes, especially the elite athlete.”

Smith recommended that young athletes and their parents always check out the credentials of sports medicine practitioners.